True to his word, President Joko Widodo has granted amnesty to Baiq Nuri — a woman who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording her boss’ sexual harassment on tape — which will effectively grant her freedom from what many have called a great injustice and a clear example of Indonesian law’s inadequacy in protecting women from sexual harassment.
The news was shared with Baiq yesterday afternoon in a video by Damar Juniarto, regional coordinator of SAFEnet (Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network). It shows the heartwarming moment when Baiq breaks down in tears after hearing that President Jokowi had signed off on granting her amnesty and that the document was being sent to the House of Parliament (DPR) for approval.
— Damar Juniarto (@DamarJuniarto) July 15, 2019
A copy of Jokowi’s amnesty document has been received by Indonesian journalists. News outlet Tirto quoted a passage from the document in which Jokowi appealed to the DPR to approve Baiq’s amnesty:
“With no more legal options available through the judiciary, we hope for the DPR’s readiness to consider giving amnesty to Baiq Nuril Makmun as permitted by [the Constitution].”
The DPR is set to review Baiq’s amnesty this afternoon, but it’s very likely that it will be approved. DPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo previously gave his backing for the amnesty, and both the government and opposition factions in the commission which oversees citizen welfare in DPR have also signaled their intention to approve Baiq’s amnesty.
Baiq’s case first began while she was working as a teacher at a high school in Mataram on the island of Lombok. She says that she was verbally sexually harassed with indecent conversation by her school’s principal several times before she decided to record him doing so during a phone conversation back in 2012.
When the recording was made public (the audio was uploaded not by Baiq but one of her colleagues instead), the principal lost his position. But in retaliation, he filed a criminal report over the recording for violating Indonesia’s Law on Electronic Transactions and Information (UU ITE), which criminalizes any electronic message or communication that could be considered slanderous or immoral (and which has been criticized innumerable times as a tool to promote censorship, limit free speech and protect those in power by criminalizing those who speak out against them).
Although found not guilty in the district court, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, ruling that Baiq was guilty of “distributing and/or transmitting or making accessible electronic information and/or electronic documents that have contents that violate morality.”
When the Supreme Court finally published the official court document pertaining to her case in December, it became apparent that the court ignored the sexual harassment aspect of her case, focusing instead on the principal’s honor.
“Because of the actions of the defendant, the career of the plaintiff, Haji Muslim, as a principal came to an end, his extended family was shamed and his honor was violated,” reads a passage in the much criticized court decision.
For that, Baiq was sentenced to six months in jail as well as a fine of IDR500 million (US$33,500). A crowdfunding campaign to pay her fine has raised IDR375 million so far.
Last week, the Supreme Court rejected Baiq’s judicial review, saying that the review, which was based on a mistake made by the MA judges adjudicating her appeal in 2018, was groundless.